Red velvet cake served on a cake stand

Red velvet cake

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(77 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 5 mins Cook: 1 hr Plus cooling

More effort

Serves 18 - 20

Bake a modern classic with this fabulous red velvet cake. With a light chocolatey flavour and bright red sponge, it’s both delicious and gorgeous to look at

Nutrition and extra info

  • sponges only

Nutrition: per serving (20)

  • kcal656
  • fat31g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs86g
  • sugars66g
  • fibre1g
  • protein6g
  • salt1.5g
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    For the sponges

    • 300ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
    • 500g plain flour
    • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 4 tsp baking powder
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

    • 560g light brown soft sugar
    • 1 tsp fine salt
    • 400ml buttermilk
      Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



      There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…

    • 4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 30ml red food colouring gel (we used Dr Oetker – a natural liquid colouring will not work)
    • 4 large eggs



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

    For the icing

    • 250g pack slightly salted butter, at room temperature



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 750g icing sugar
    • 350g tub full-fat soft cheese
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract


    1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm.

    2. Put 250g flour, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 280g light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.

    3. Mix 200ml buttermilk, 150ml oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 100ml water and 15ml food colouring in a jug. Add 2 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.

    4. Repeat steps 1 and 2, so that you have four sponge cakes in total. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.

    5. To make the icing, put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then whizz with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the soft cheese and vanilla, sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more with the hand mixer.

    6. To assemble the cake, stick one of your sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the soft cheese icing. Use roughly half the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between each layer. Pile the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake. Tidy the plate with a piece of kitchen paper. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, but bring back to room temperature for an hour or so before eating.

      This recipe was refreshed in July 2018 based on user feedback. For the original recipe, see our beetroot cake.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    Grace Massie's picture
    Grace Massie
    22nd Mar, 2020
    I was going to make this for my Grans Mother's Day I tested the recipe and I now think the measurements are way off, bear in mind with the way things are measured it uses a whole block of butter for the icing. As well as you'll need to buy 2 tubs of butter milk 2 bags of brown sugar and 2 tubs of soft cheese to make up the measurements and this becomes quite an expensive cake and a sickly one, I heard red velvet cake was quite nice and seeing it lasts a few days I figured I'd manage to polish off the test one in a week. But now I'm left with half a bowl of unused icing and a cake that's as inedible as it is expensive.
    Daimien Brown's picture
    Daimien Brown
    15th Feb, 2020
    I tried making this for the wife as she loves cake and kept asking about it. As others have found it came out brown, this is likely down to the brown sugar and coco powder other recipes do not use, as they use caster sugar instead and some do not use coco powder. I was concerned with the amount of icing sugar in the frosting/icing and rightly so as its unbearably sickly. Bit of wasted time making it so live and learn really
    6th Feb, 2020
    I have made this as a birthday cake and for two wedding cakes and all came out beautifully with lots of compliments
    Priyal Rupalia's picture
    Priyal Rupalia
    2nd Feb, 2020
    One came out brown, the other green. Tasted moist and kind of decent, but buttercream was awful. Was completely ruined, would not recommend at all
    James Williams's picture
    James Williams
    1st Feb, 2020
    Came out brown, tasted awful, binned it. If you have some spare time and feel like wasting it doing something awful this is the cake for you!
    Vicki Templeman's picture
    Vicki Templeman
    30th Jan, 2020
    First 2 came out like sticky pancakes... So I gave the second batch 45 mins... also came out like sticky sunken pancakes
    ElizabethRuth's picture
    16th Nov, 2019
    Mine didn’t come out red at all wondering if it was the light brown sugar. Have anyone tried using beetroot for colour?
    nicola jarvis's picture
    nicola jarvis
    9th Nov, 2019
    I'm not happy with the amount of oil, sugar and buttermilk used in this recipe for the end result to turn out so oily that I don't think that it is edible. Will not try this recipe again. Its a genuine disappointment
    1st Nov, 2019
    Am in the middle of baking this cake and have set my first batch to cool but I just discovered that rather than looking red - as you would expect a Red Velvet to be- this cake was green. Having followed the recipe accurately I dont know why my cake turned out like this. Although I am still to taste it!
    12th Oct, 2019
    Lovely cake that I made for my daughter’s 40th - but way too much buttercream for us . I just put a thin layer on and covered in fondant icing- every bit eaten in moments!


    17th Feb, 2014
    Would you be able to do this as a giant cupcake or in one big tin? I love this cake
    goodfoodteam's picture
    28th Feb, 2014
    Hi there, thanks for getting in touch - great to hear you love the recipe so much! In this case, we'd recommend sticking to the original recipe as the cooking time hasn’t been tested for a giant cupcake or in one tin.
    17th Feb, 2014
    I love this cake could you do it as one in one big tin or as a giant cupcake?
    10th Sep, 2016
    Don't add the water! And perhaps give the cakes an extra 5 minutes.
    11th Mar, 2016
    use fresh beetroot and boil it yourself and then grate it. the taste is more subtle.
    11th Mar, 2016
    Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder in addition to the bicarb. Use a little less water. Add double cream to the icing.
    14th Jun, 2015
    Sarah Mac
    25th Sep, 2015
    To much beetroot why not adjust the ingredients a little, this isn't an overly expensive cake to make!? I thought these had beetroot in as the norm. recipes vary a lot. I'll have to pick one and hope for the best. Why didn't you post some recipes you do like?
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